Charlotte Business Journal, Ashley Fahey

Speculation abounds about the migration patterns of urban dwellers because of the Covid-19 pandemic but one Charlotte homebuilder still sees plenty of demand for homes in and around the center city.

Hopper Communities this week filed a rezoning petition to build up to 20 townhouses on East 16th Street in the Belmont neighborhood, between Pegram Street and Louise Avenue. The company is gearing up presales for a second phase of its South End Terraces project at South Tryon Street and Remount Road, which will include 20 units.

It’s also under construction on townhouses near Bryant Park in west Charlotte and will soon close on land in the Lower South End area for a 79-unit project.

“Millennials are our target homebuyer … those are the folks coming more and more to market,” said Bart Hopper, founder of Hopper Communities.

He said buyers have ventured into the housing market in the past couple of months because of record-low mortgage rates and a desire for more space because of the pandemic. Realtors and other homebuilders, as well as mortgage lenders, in the Charlotte region are also observing this trend.

A recent Bank of America homebuilders report said while the pandemic is expected to have some impact on buying patterns, only about 18% of respondents it surveyed cited Covid-19 as a potential catalyst for moving. It found little delta between those living in urban areas versus the suburbs.

“In our view, survey results seem supportive of our thesis that demographics and affordability are the core underpinnings of U.S. housing market strength and that Covid-19 may simply serve as an accelerant in some instances,” the report said. “In other words, the notion of a Covid-19-induced urban exodus may be less pronounced than headlines suggest.”

Hopper said he’s seen buyer demand in both urban and suburban areas of town. In addition to building townhouses, Hopper Communities does lot development for national and regional homebuilders, typically in more suburban areas.

After a 45-day slowdown at the start of stay-at-home orders issued this spring, Hopper said buyer interest and sales for both urban and suburban product ramped up across the region. He said Hopper Communities has both infill urban townhouses and suburban lot development in its pipeline.

At the proposed Belmont project, Hopper said townhouses will likely measure about 1,400 or 1,500 square feet and be a more modern product, similar to what the company is building at South End Terraces.

The rezoning petition will come before Charlotte City Council in the coming months for a public hearing, followed by a vote at a later meeting.

This article was originally posted in Charlotte Business Journal

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